Dec 22

The Cosmos Barks

If one is stuck, and struggling with life, choosing a good therapist—one who’s a good fit and who, in the words of my old college English professor, “speaks to your condition”—is paramount. Recently I had to make such a choice. As a therapist myself, with many colleagues in the field, the search was especially fraught. Anonymity and confidentiality are difficult in a city like Austin, with its sunny, outdoorsy arena and small-town feel.

I was considering this, and despairing a bit, as I sat on the steps of a building where I had arrived too early for a meeting. The doors were still locked, and so I waited. Presently, along came a gentleman with a large, fluffy Bichon on a leash. I sat up straighter and took note because the dog was the image of my own dog. Bichons are generally much smaller than the one I have, and this Bichon, too, was unusually buff. Not only that, but the man himself looked vaguely familiar. We struck up a friendly conversation and he introduced himself: it was a name I immediately recognized. He is a well-respected therapist whose web page I had seen, and liked, when trolling for someone to see. He was gentle and warm, and I liked the instinctive way he related to his dog.

I asked the dog’s name.

“This is George,” he said. “He’s a rescue, and he has terrible separation anxiety, so I bring him with me to work.”

My heart skipped a beat. My late father’s name was George, and so is my older brother’s. And I take MY Bichon, Buffett, to work with me to allay his separation anxiety. He hops up on the couch with clients and snuggles up next to them. Usually, I can feel the anxiety lowering palpably in the room.

I greeted George, letting him sniff my hand, and the man and I continued to chat, mainly about dogs. Then, since he had keys to the door where my meeting was being held, he offered to let me in.

That was the end of the exchange. But the following day, after sleeping on it, I called him and booked an appointment. And now, every two weeks, George joins me on the couch.

Sometimes, the universe speaks, albeit with a small, unexpected bark.